The Pleasure Of Being: Washing, Feeding, Holding

The Pleasure Of Being: Washing, Feeding, Holding
The Point Hotel (Venue 109)
4 stars ****

AT THE TOP of this review, you’ll see a four-star rating: it reflects the poise and elegant design of the event I attended, and the conceptual boldness involved in planning and executing it. In truth, though, Adrian Howells’s second artwork of the festival – companion piece to his wedding show May I Have The Pleasure? – marks the point where one-on-one theatre merges into pure personal encounter, and into completely new territory. There’s no artifice here, no narrative unless you – the solo audience – want to supply one, no script, no invention of character. There’s just a hotel room, a bath filled with warm bubbly water and rose petals, and a 30 minute chance, under Adrian’s famously gentle touch, to relive the experience of being washed, wrapped in a fluffy towel, patted dry, and then lovingly cradled, and fed a few pieces of delicious fruit and chocolate.

For some, this experience seems to unleash oceans of pain, a suppressed longing for lost or broken family relationships that a lifetime of busy living has failed to heal; for me, it was more like pure pleasure and relaxation in the middle of a hectic day, a happy reminder of parents who loved me, and a family that worked. It does, though, provoke the deepest thought about the many different ways in which we buy intimacy, in a world where we are often too busy to get our personal relationships right; the soothing chat of hairdressers and barbers, manicurists, massage experts, physios, and all the other professionals – not excluding those involved in the oldest professional of all – whom people pay to give them the solace of what at least seems like a caring human touch. Now, it seems we can have that brief experience of intimacy for the price of a Fringe theatre ticket; and Adrian Howells is certainly a practitioner to be trusted with the raw material of anyone’s life. Yet the doubt remains: the questions about why we need this, why life itself now so often fails to offer us these basic pleasures of being, and how we can get ourselves back to a place where we have this kind of time, both for others, and for ourselves.

Joyce McMillan
Untl 28 August
p. ? Can’t find in fringe programme.


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